Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 2 & 3

Posts like this should go without saying: Spoilers Alert!

After a shaky start in E1, slowly picks up in E2, Downton Abbey is back on track and full steam ahead in E3. What a relief! I want to see it go on and on, season after season. But I would not wish to see it just ride on its popularity. I want the Downton feel back, that appeal which first captivated me from Seasons 1 and 2. I can feel it again in last night’s E3.

Previously in E2, the main event is the Runaway Groom: Sir Anthony Strallan gets cold feet and jilts Edith at the altar. Dramatic? Yes. Contrived? No. It takes courage for him to run away like that. Of course, he should have done that long ago and not wait till everyone is all dressed up. But I know, he isn’t sure before. I give him credits though for stopping the new career of Edith right there at the altar. And he needs to get out of there quick, before he changes his mind again.

I trust Sir Anthony is altruistic, thinking only of Edith. It’s not right for her to give up her life for an old man even though she sees him as her life work. Violet Crawley is quick to step in, contradicting Robert, with the three words that show who is still in charge: “Let him go.” With this dramatic scene, all else in E2 seems to fade by comparison.

The fancy wedding cuisine goes to the servants downstairs, and to the poor. But if they don’t want it, Violet Crawley wants them doggie bagged.

Gourmet wedding cuisine for downstairs

And oh yes, a letter suddenly appears, from Lavinia’s dead father, its content releases Matthew of his guilt for inheriting the large sum. So he is now free to chip in to save Downton Abbey from appearing on the real estate page in the paper. Does this deus ex machina device qualify the show as melodrama, or just sloppy screenwriting? Oh, who cares, the Crawleys don’t have to move, and that’s what’s important. A big hassle, downsizing. You can ask the Dashwoods of Sense and Sensibility, no fun moving from a big mansion to a little cottage.

Good news for Mrs. Hughes, it’s benign something something, not cancer. The relief is equally shared by Mr. Carson. Good man, the news sends him back to his former showbiz days, singing his heart out. But the kind words from Cora Crawley should not go unchecked. I’m sure Mrs. Hughes will be forever grateful: “You will stay here, and we will look after you.” Even though not getting cancer is still better.


With that we move on to E3, that’s where the drama begins, and the plot thickens.

Watching E3, I’m captivated once again as in previous Seasons. There are witty LOL lines, mostly from Violet Crawley as always; there are some not so LOL lines that are equally well said by others.

First off, I’m glad that Edith is no Ms. Havisham. Life is too good to be bogged down, even when you’re being jilted at the altar. And, as her mother says, testing can only make you stronger. That turns her from a jilted bride to women’s suffrage advocate. Take that, Ms. Havisham. So Edith has shifted her life purpose from taking care of an old man donning an arm sling to writing letters to the editor.

But the main event here in E3 involves Tom Branson, the former Downton chauffer turned Downton son-in-law turned Irish revolutionary. Woa, what drama. He escapes from Dublin police and slips back into Downton, leaving Sybil to run for her life. Oh, it’s all planned. But still, herein lies the dilemma. He wants to go back to Dublin but he’ll be arrested as soon as he sets foot there. Sybil wants to give birth in Downton, peaceful and safe, two words that are not in her husband’s dictionary.

Some memorable lines come from Tom’s confrontation with his father-in-law Robert Crawley, patriarch of Downton, who seldom wears anything else other than a tux, choice of wardrobe being black or white ties, with clout in high places, albeit still a good man he is.

Robert:  What a harsh world you live in.

Tom: We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do.

Something Robert would not have understood.

Ethel saying goodbye

Ethel the former maid turned prostitute can surely understand. It is a harsh world she lives in, having to raise a child with little means. Of course it’s heart wrenching to have to give up her son, handing him back to his grandparents, out of her own choice this time, knowing the child will have the best opportunities with them; with her, he has no chance. She had fought to keep him, tried to raise him on her own, but it didn’t work. That’s what makes it sad. It is poignant to see her wave goodbye as the coach moves away, with Mrs. Hughes and Isobel Crawley standing behind her, supportive yet each holding a different opinion about her choice.

New footman Jimmy is the main attraction downstairs, a timed bomb I can tell. And Mrs. Patmore finally gets a new kitchen maid to lighten up Daisy’s work load. But with this new gal, I’m sure Daisy regrets having started labor grievances. Alfred wants to make the new kitchen maid feel at home in no time. Be careful what you wish for, Daisy, you just may get it, nemesis in disguise.

I haven’t mentioned Bates and Anna you may have noticed. I know, Bates legal team is working day and night on Twitter, and free John Bates signs in the real world. But for dramatic effects, and a change of scenery from the lofty and elegant Downton Abbey, we see Bates debased in a prison cell. Here’s another person to agree with Tom. It’s a harsh world outside Downton. But then as Cora Crawley has said, testing would only make you stronger. Bates and Anna are exemplary in living out this motto. That Julian fellow sure knows how to lead and tease. With Bates and Anna madly reading each other’s letters after weeks of non-communication, Episode 3 ends, leaving us wishing the week would just fly by.


Other Related Posts:

Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 1

Season 3, Episodes 4 & 5

Season 3, Episodes 6 & 7 Finale

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: Facts that Give Rise to Fiction


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

9 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 2 & 3”

  1. You nailed it, Arti! And yes, it WAS a good episode. The Tom plot has good legs and so does Edith as suffragette (although I still thought Sir Anthony was almost a cop-out, like Julian started it as a good story and decided he didn’t like it after he had to do something like that to get out of it!) And Violet rocks again. I do hope Maggie signs a fourth year contract — have you heard? That’s one spoiler I’ve heard little about. The Ethel bit was very touching, too — heartbreaking face. Loving it!


    1. Last I checked yes, Maggie has signed for Season 4! And, about Sir Anthony, I think I’ll cut him some slacks, Julian Fellowes I mean. You never know, maybe has has changed his mind with many of the characters and their stories already in the past Seasons. You’ll never know how much improv there is, for both actors and scriptwriter. Write as they shoot. I’m not sure about here in DA, but I’ve heard some directors don’t even have a script, or have one but use it freely.


  2. The episodes fly by, don’t they! As much as I love Cousin Matthew, I think he was being a bit tedious about the money from Mr. Swire. Leave it to Mary to get the ball rolling. There was just too much angst going on there. Hurrah! We don’t have to move from Downtown after all and can look forward to the rest of the season. (The wedding food sounded marvelous. I rather liked Sir Anthony Strallen – probably because he isn’t too old for ME!


    1. Grad,

      I think Anthony Strallen is underrated by everyone, except Edith of course. I mean, the man introduces the family to the automobile, teaches one of the first female drivers, and, why the arm sling in the first place? Injured in the War. At his age? in the War? No white feather for him definitely.


  3. It’s good to keep company with my favorite television show again.

    I’m finding the dynamics between the married Mary and Matthew interesting to observe –rather than elaborate, I’ll just leave it at that.

    Violet’s lines are once again, almost show stoppers — good enough to pause and rewind again and again. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the lines themselves or the artful way in which she delivers them… either way, I’m glad to read she’s signed on for another season.

    Arti, that still image of Ethel and her son you’ve shared is lovely enough to frame. Or to keep tucked into one’s Bible to pull out, like an icon, as an entry point upon which to contemplate the mysteries of love.


    1. Janell,

      I’m a bit disappointed with Mary and Matthew’s story line in S3. They were such a sublime pair of romantics (one of the reasons l’d enjoyed DA in the past), other than Bates and Anna that is. But here in S3, Matthew and Mary have sunk into trivial skirmishes. Anyway, I know, there has to be conflicts in order to push the story forward… or else we’d be bored looking at them all dressed up in Downton and have nowhere to go.

      And you’re so right about Ethel’s releasing her son into the hands of his grandparents (more like grandfather only). And yes, the mysteries of love.


  4. Even though Edith has turned to writing, I was still sad she was left at the altar. Things are never easy for her and I would so love to see her genuinely happy.


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